The Armour of God- By Ram Mishra- Book Review

The Armour of God- By Ram Mishra- Book Review

I was part of a generation that grew up in the 80’s thinking that it was fashionable to have Hanuman’s mace and Ram’s quiver, more than G.I.Joe toys. In a country that knew nothing else than Doordarshan’s solitary TV Channel, one had little options than to watch Ramayan and Mahabharat. Naturally, I entered the 90’s armed with mythology trivia, also complemented by Amar Chitra Katha’s series of books on Indian Gods. All of that evaporated with STAR Television entering India in the early 90’s. The mythology I knew seemed all the more  silly as I grew up, starting with statements like “King Dasharatha lived for a thousand years”. I was becoming a drop out on the subject of mythology, before I read Ram’s bookon “The Armor of God’. The book has helped me look at mythology with a little more respect, since it has kindled my curiosity levels to seek for the hidden gems that’s were not told as part of our history text books.

The book is a good read, where characters from the past, and the present are mixed, in a fantasy tale, that aims to through light theories or viewpoints not known before.  The book starts well with the fantasy tale, setting the tone for the further chapters, before an interesting theory of the Aryan Invasion is discussed. This is the point where I wondered where the blurring line between mythology and the ignored Indian history could have been. It is at this point within the first 30 pages, that lets you feel at ease, that the book is probably going to unravel more such stories.

Whether it’s the part where the body aches after time travel, or the  powers of the Saligrama stone, the book enthralls you by opening up your mind, to think about the experience.  The narrative of this cross era fantasy, never for once, lets your mind think that all of this could be made up, thereby making the reader put faith in the narrative, to read further to explore mysteries that were probably not told. While it does draw into the otherwise western notion, that India is a land of many mystics, the story remains relevant to the reader.

To briefly talk about the story, its about how the normal lives of 2 beings on planet Earth, suddenly changes when they realize that they are incarnations of 2 popular characters from the Mahabharata, one of whom is Karna. The story does well to move back and forth between the present and the connection to the ages of the Mahabharata, and keeps the reader gripped on.

In short, the book is a great investment in understanding our culture, through the spirit of enquiry, and sets your mind thinking on what the history of India was, and what was the history we were actually given in our text books. That delta is exactly your gain from reading the book. 

Do get your copy, by buying the book here on Flipkart.


Social Media Week2013 - #I Flew, #I Saw, # I tweeted

“Veni, Vidi,Veci”- Greek rendition of Julius Ceasar-47 BC  [translating to  'I came, I saw, I conquered']
“Vanthen, Vazhanginen, Vilaydinen”- Tamil rendition of Kartik Kannan -2013 AD [roughly translated to I Flew, I saw, I tweeted]
As soon as I landed in London, I navigated my way to Covent Guarden through the Piccadily line, from London Heathrow’s terminal 3 with NOKIA’s HERE MAPS, on my Windows Phone. I held my breath, swallowed some saliva, and gasped for breath! The Nokia team at SMW2013 was waiting for me at the venue, and handed me out a Nokia Lumia 1020 to cover the event!
I was live tweeting some of the thoughts by the speakers, and  recorded a HD video of his demo, to upload on youtube, passing on the video link on social networks. The social media guy with his 1 alphanumeric phone, next to me ran out of battery. Ah! Life without wireless charging- so tough!, I use it on the Lumia 1020, which enables me to move around outside my seat and take the video of the session, without having to worry about plugging the device to charge. Talk about Technology to the smart aleck from Rajnikant land J
Mark Zuckerberg was next! He spoke about how one can use internet in the air, without a data connection on the Nokia Lumia 1220,  which will be powering his internet.org dreams
Justin Timberlake, who acted as “Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor” in the movie –“Social Network”, also spoke about how to use social media, to pick up stakes in ailing social networks. He gave a few wonderful tidbits, but was worried whether he had said too much in a public forum. He immediately took a registration to attend the “Speak Now, Regret Later” to seek his doubts on the legal side of Social Media!
The best part was recording a video of Youtube’s founder speaking on  “The Future of Video” and uploading to Youtube J.
From Covent Garden, we proceeded to our hotel near Gloucester Road, and I used the CITY LENS feature to find me a good pub to drown myself in a few beers at 8 pm(, and it pointed me to head to the ‘Bavarian Beer House’ at London Tower Hill. A few beers later, I suddenly woke up to see my office laptop around, and my mobile alarm buzzing! Geeeez!
“#I Slept, #I Drank, #I Dreamt”…..
Help me convert that that to
“#I Came(to London for SMW2013), I Saw(With Nokia 1020’s lenses), I tweeted ( at SMW2013)


Go Goa Gone!-Movie Review

Go Goa Gone

It doesn’t take too much to excite some one of a movie with the title having the 3 magical letters of Goa in it. To add to that in the trailer, you wacky hummable music,  Zombie plot., 3 guys having bachelor fun in Goa, one new chick as part of the cast, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, since you’ve seen the trailer

The movie remains very focused on the Zombie plot, and does not waste time lounging around irrelevant scenes, but you did feel that the movie did not take you around on a little trip around Goa, as much as you imagined sitting in living room. The Zombie genre, recently introduced in India, by Luke Kenny, seems to have been inspired by Walking Dead-from Hollywood, but fits in rather well with the Goa theme.

The directors have done well to keep a balance between the comedy and the zombie chase, keeping with the trailer’s promise of a Zom-Com(Zombie comedy). It’s easy to have fallen for the bait of missing the woods for the trees in focusing more on the zombie part, but the film makers have done justice to the way they have timed the length of the movie.

The movie starts with a spicy Telugu number, where Chiranjeevi’s jhatka’s from the 90’s, have Luv(Vir Das) and Hardik(Kunal) unwillingly glued to the dance, since neither of them is stable enough to push their laziness to change the remote.  The scene just showed how bored in life, each of them were, and why they needed a break from the routine and vert appropriately, their mundance life is highlighted by the catchy ‘Khoon Choos Le’ number. To make matters more worse, Hardik loses his job due to a make out session in the office board room, and Luv is rejected by his girlfriend(eerily similar to Eurotrip’s ‘Scotty doesn’t know’). So in true Indian style, people use their frustration to rise like the phoenix, in making a Goa trip, thanks to an opportunity that arises due to Bunny(their room mate), who needs to make a presentation to his higher ups.

Cut to Goa, the director makes a humorous point on how today’s Facebook friends are mere connections on the web, more than actual friends. Luv’s who’s full monty in the pool, end up meeting Luna(his Facebook Fraand), who happens to know everything in Luv’s real life, thanks to his Facebook updates(apart from knowing that the Chaddi floating in the water is Luv’s).  Luna(Puja Gupta) looks vivacious in the bikini, and one only wishes they had more of her in the movie, to keep the fun quotient going!

Luna informs them of a rave party in a secret island, and before you know it, our bachelor trio drive down to a point where where they see the island from the coast. In a very ‘The Beach’esque fashion, the trio looks at the island from a distance, and decide how close It is, for them to get there.  Once on the island, the rave party is shown in the rather appropriate ‘Slowly Slowly’ number. The rave party has pills being distributed for people to get high, and our trio doesn’t have the pills, since they don’t have the moolah in the pocket.  Hardik takes ‘Ariana’ to make love under the moonlight, and wakes up the next morning, when the morning sun gleams on his face.  He wakes up to see people eating other people on the beach, and runs for cover to make sense of the situation and meets his other friends . The conversation that follows is hilarious, given the studious background of Bunny( A Steve Job fan, who chooses to ask ‘What do we know, what have we learnt), and our trio trek their way out to get out of the island.  In the midst of  their run, Hardik suddenly remembers that Luna, had said that she would be going from the party to meet her friends on the hilltop guest house. He convinces his friends to go rescue Luna, and then they get to the hilltop guesthouse to discover blood stains all over, and find Luna locked in her room. They discover the Zombie phenomenon is all over the island and not limited to what they saw., and realize that this may be linked to the pills that were distributed. While they run together for safety, they are accosted by the Zombies and just when it seems that the Zombies would have them for breakfast, Bareez(Boris for the make believe Russian accent), makes an entry shoots the Zombies, saving the group of 4.

The rest of the movie is about how they encounter and escape from the Zombies, which forms 60% of the movie, and here is where the movie slips a bit with a perceived overdose of the zombie bit, but there’s enough rib tickling comedy to keep you entertained, apart from the racy feel that the movie has all through the 2 hours. 

Things to watch out are Luv’s reactions, when he the false alarm ticks off in his brain as ‘moments-to- make-out’, and Kunal Khemu’s care free attitude on his sleeve, which makes up for many ROTFL ‘moments’. Overall,  it makes for interesting viewing, but you leave the hall wondering if it could have been better. Could the ‘Director Babaii’ have given more bootiful ‘Bhaang for the Buck’? The answer is yes, but you ‘Slowly Slowly’ forget all that, as the songs more than make up for the few gaffes that stay in the movie!



Holi as a festival, never fascinated me, since it was not a ritual that was part of our Tam-Brahm set up. The first instance of the madness that ensues in a Holi festival, was realised through the eyes of Bollywood (Damini-1993). It never was a festival, I wanted to know more about, until I was at B-school. The crowd at a B school is from all over the country, and given that you have a sizeable population outside of Tamil Nadu, a lot of them had made plans for Holi.

Dumping everyone in mud pools, tearing shirts, madly spraying water, applying colour in drunken revelry, was suddenly a very exciting activity. One of those rare times, when you dont quite care, what you do and how others perceive you. Men and women on campus, displayed their carnal side, when it came to Holi, and I liked people expressing themselves, breaking the shackles of the real world that makes our mind, the watchdog to our heart.

5 years after that, I got another opportunity to celebrate Holi, with colleagues and my wife. There was a pool party, Colours spraying all around within groups, and Thandai shots(So Called Bhaang).While this time the party also had music and a proper pool, the insensitivity of the hotel staff, robbed the party of the Holi Feel. But it sure is India's very own La-Tomatina! Maybe its time we marketed Holi better for in bound tourism


How Citibank India Penalises You, For Their mistake

This is an interesting incident, I wish to share on how things could go wrong with your banking provider. In this case Citibank India shows, how much they can go ahead to rub-it-in for their customer. These are excerpts from a conversation on email with their officer. The case is simple. My father had transferred a lakh of rupees by mistake to my Citibank CC account instead of my Citibank SB account. I apologised to Citibank for the wrong transfer and asked them to help me get my money back. What follows is absolute mayhem! If you have similar instances to share from Citibank or other banks, its a good time to share our concerns.

These are some of the inferences I draw

a) No Reference/Call Notes Detailed Log- Citibank India has a very poor call centre that hardly is able to track, what the previous officer said. Detailed call notes and action items are not left by the call centre people for a given account. I had to re start telling the problem on all occasions when I spoke for this issue.

b) Un-Dependable- Every time I hear an assurance from citibank, I needed to call back 2 days later that the expected process has not been followed, and I have to submit a new request all over again. Had this problem with them forgetting to re-dispatch my new card after it returned from the wrong address, after taking down a request.

c) Misaligned Possibilities- Each time I speak to their customer call agents, they seem to promise a stated action(money transfer) and then they forget about it. I need to start completely afresh and another officer contradicts what the previous agent said.

d) Rude Managers- When I asked their manager, why their process was failing, he behaved in an immature manner, and insisted that I was wrong. Don't employ 'Managers' who cant even own up mistakes, and secondly have no idea of the pulse of the frustrated customer.

e) Lack of Care/Concern for the customers situation/problem- Despite having said that I need the money at the earliest, this information never was stored in their customer account call notes. Nobody looks at the problem, and how that can be solved. I am not sure their customer service agents are well incentivised to delight the consumer, nor are they incentivised to solve problems. They are robotic humans who are trained to repeat the same words, irrespective of the emotion of customers.

f) Using Rules to Put Off the Consumer, and Transfer Blame- After 4 conversations with Citibank to get my money, and failed process attempts to initiate the transfer, Citibank adds my excess cash directly to their monthly bill, and then says that they will pay me a reduced amount, and that too in draft mode, instead of previously agreed account transfer.

"I had borrowed a loan of 100,000 from my dad for some urgent expenses. He was to transfer it to my Citibank savings account, but transferred it to by Citibank Credit Card account by mistake[from his Lakshmi Vilas Bank Account]. I realised this, and checked with Citibank on the 4th of March. They said the money still had not hit the card. I had asked the officer, if the money could be reversed. The officer said 'YES'. I called on 6th March-Wednesday, to check for reversal of money to my dad's account( Lakshmi Vilas Bank). A new officer picked up the phone and then said that REVERSAL is not possible, and he will deduct the running balance on the card, and give me 66,000, and that too in a draft in 3-4 business days( which is about 6 days if you add weekend) I was livid, and asked for his supervisor and told about the urgency of the situation, and that I need the money at the earliest. 

The supervisor asked me to submit a bank certificate scanned copy that gave proof of my dad's money transfer from Lakshmi vilas Bank to Citibank Credit Card account. He also had said that he would make this transfer to my Citibank savings account, for the complete amount-100,000. This bank certificate was obtained on the 7th of March from Lakshmi Vilas bank, and sent to Citibank's mentioned email ID on the 8th of March 2013. I expected that this would be processed, but when I called on the 11th of March, it had still not been processed.

I was again told by a lady officer, that she will send the remaining amount(not 1 lakh, but 66K odd) in a draft mode. I had to restart all the 'Ramayan' from the beginning about the case, and then she assured me that she will transfer the full amount (100,000) to my Citibank Savings account, and gave me a transaction reference number-7465, assuring me that the money will hit my bank account by Wednesday(13th March), and in the rare case that it does not, I should allow for one more day(14th of March). 

On the 14th of March, when I call, I am told by officer on the phone, that the billing was done on the 11th of March, and they have rejected the request for money transfer. I was not informed of this, until I called Citibank. I am under the impression that the money was on its way, but Citibank has not chosen to inform their consumer, despite their consumer saying how important and urgent the money was to him.

The officer starts the same process, saying that they will again put in a request to process a draft for the remaining amount(66k). They say, since the bill was generated, they cannot do anything to give me a lakh of rupees. My contention is that I have had 4 conversations with them before the bill was generated, and it is Citibank's mistake off adding the excess amount to my bill.

Your manager, Mr Devesh instead of reacting in a mature manner, behaves in a very petty manner,when I tell him the problem and point this as Citibank's mistake in billing me, when they have assured me that they will transfer the money. He comes and says why was the wrong transfer made? While the question may be valid, I have apologised on the phone on the 4th of March for the wrong transfer and it was Citibank, who gave me assurances that the money transfer/Reversal was possible, and even gave me a reference number for the same. Mr Devesh also goes on to impatiently say that he needs to have a conclusion on this call, and says he will get back, and secondly he also says that Citibank never promises anything on a call, and they just take in a request for the service. For a consumer to hear this, after 6 conversations, I am now forced to believe that speaking with a officer in your call center is going to be a waste of time, as per Mr Devesh's statements.He is not able to answer, when I ask him, why does the process fail in every call, where detailed call notes are not available for the customer service executive on what happened in the previous call. 

All I ask for now, after 11 days of conversation with Citibank is to please return my money in totality (100,000) to my citibank savings account. I don't want to be penalised for mistakes that citibank has with its faulty processes. If this is the way, you treat a customer, who has annual spends of 6-7 Lakhs on this card, for the past 3 years, I am most certain that Citibank is on a downward spiral on doing Credit Card business operations in India. 

Expecting a quick solution, to this problem.

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